With throbbing headaches and watering eyes, shaking hands, seeing someone in the process of detoxing looks painful, never mind going through it personally. Waves of hot and cold flashes, muscle pain and nausea are not uncommon symptoms to add to the list.
Making the decision to detox, to begin the physical withdrawals that come with tackling an addiction, are scary, a mental obstacle many have to overcome. To help with that fear, the Heber Valley Medical Center is expanding an Intermountain Healthcare Program to rural communities, creating the Dayspring Detox Program in Heber last fall.
"We are keeping the finger on the pulse," said Shawn Morrow, the administrator of Heber Valley Medical Center. " This program is really honing in on those who have the greatest chance of walking away succeeding. That's where we want to start, which is important because we do not want to create this revolving door."
The hospital identified the need for the program more than two years ago with plans to market the service to rural counties in the area including Wasatch and Summit County, but with the center completed, the hospital plans to provide the Dayspring Detox Program to those in a 125-mile radius. With three beds available year-round, patients are set up in a private hospital room. Since the program officially began in October, only four people have gone through the process, with the few that have detoxed mostly from the local area along the Wasatch Back.
"These are often good people who just cannot shake this monkey on their back," said Dr. Stanton McDonald, the Medical Director and Co-Director of Dayspring Detox Program at Heber Valley Medical Center. "We're trying to carve out those who are motivated, who are capable and who are not just coming looking for another place to get drugs. We want those who are sincere, who want a different lifestyle.
" They need to learn to cope with stress, with life, in ways other than drugs, new coping skills. For many years, when stress did come up they handled it in the wrong way."
In his 30 years living in Wasatch County, he has seen substance abuse issue steadily grow.
"I've felt helpless," he said. "I felt like there was very little I could do to help until this program."
The detox portion of the program lasts three to five days but is only the beginning of the full recovery process, with some addicts taking several decades to form a habit they are now trying to break. The Daysprings Program, which is an expansion of the Salt Lake City LDS Hospital, will go beyond the initial detox stages, offering support in finding continuing programs or other rehabilitation centers to continue treatment. The process is meant to be a starting off point, a place where those addicted to different substances can receive medical care as they get over the physical symptoms of addiction.
"We will work with them, help them find something," said Gayle Sturgis, the Heber Valley Medical Center Nurse Administrator. "Detoxing is only one little piece of it,. They have to get into rehab, make a continual effort, otherwise they end up detoxing all over again. We don't want that."
In the next year, the program will only be able to accept 30 patients under federal guidelines for clinics that prescribe drugs such as Suboxone. Suboxone is a highly controlled substance. It is approved by the FDA for the treatment of opiate dependence and is locally provided by one Heber Valley Medical Center physician and one other doctor based in Coalville.
Because of the limit to the number of patients, any applicants into the program will have to go through an interview process to determine if the program aims are in alignment with their personal goals to end their substance abuse.
"We are small, but the program is building," Sturgis said. "We are in our infancy."
"The program is selective but we are here to help at the end of the day," she added. "We will help them take the first step and the next step, let them continue to advance and move forward with their lives."